From Tide to Table
Bellingham Dockside Market
What: Bellingham Dockside Market
Where: Squalicum Harbor, Gate 5 or 7
WHEN: 10am-2pm Sat., Oct. 31
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Rain had been in the forecast, but as my fella and I strolled from the Squalicum Harbor parking lot to Gate 5 shortly before noon last Saturday to attend the soft opening of the Bellingham Dockside Market, glimpses of blue sky belied the prediction of inclement weather.
As we joined a stream of other masked shoppers eager to support the new hub that makes it possible for local fisher-folks to collectively sell their catch directly from their boats or adjacent to the dock, I observed that the collaboration between the Port of Bellingham, Bellingham SeaFeast, and the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County appeared to be a welcome one. Nobody was leaving the market empty-handed, and new arrivals were sussing out the seafood situation with interest.
I’d checked the Bellingham Dockside Facebook page before heading out the door, so I was already aware that the purveyors for the launch would include Blaine’s Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, Nerka Sea Frozen Salmon, Crab Bellingham, and Over the Rail Seafood Sales—who would be offering freshly caught tuna and black cod from aboard their watercraft, the F/V Ocean Swell.
Near the entrance to the ramp leading to the dock, Ficus Chan of Crab Bellingham was regularly leaning deep into barrels full of live male Dungeness crab to scoop out prime specimens for $9 per pound. After setting them on a scale and collecting their net worth, he’d then hand off the still-snapping crustaceans in brown paper bags to his customers.
Nearby, Drayton Harbor Oyster Company was offering Drayton smalls for $15 per dozen. We’d previously purchased their waterfront wares at a one-day sale in Squalicum Harbor in September, and knew their bivalves—plucked fresh from oyster beds off Peace Portal Drive—wouldn’t disappoint. We secured an even dozen in a bag of ice, and then ferried them to the cooler stored in the trunk of our car before heading back to the dock to see what other fish were in the sea.
Aboard the Nerka, co-owners Joel Brady-Power and Tele Aadsen were chatting with customers who’d pre-ordered wild Alaskan king salmon or were reserving one or more for the next market on Oct. 31. The couple were also taking orders for spot prawns that will be available in late October or early November as they discussed their sustainable fishing business, which involves summers spent trolling for salmon off the Southeast Alaska coast and freezing their catch at sea before heading back to their home base in Bellingham. As they shared their sea-to-plate love story—from a fathom away, thank you very much—their passion for what they do shone through.
By the time we made our way to the F/V Ocean Swell, the crew had sold out of fresh tuna and ling cod but still had plenty of black cod—also known as sablefish—for $6.50 per pound. We were informed the deep-sea fish had been caught Thursday off the coast of Westport, and soon found ourselves being handed a three-pound beauty over the rails of the boat.
The plan had been to make fish and chips with the protein-rich cod, but a dull fillet knife caused us to change course for that night’s dinner plans, and we instead baked the fish for approximately 20 minutes (after cleaning and gutting it, of course). Simple additions such as lemon juice, a little butter, soy sauce, salt, pepper and fresh herbs brought out the velvety texture of the white meat, and I was amazed at the complex flavor.
On Sunday afternoon, we set up a shucking station at the butcher block in the kitchen and got to work opening the magnificent mollusks, making sure to keep the briny liquor intact for maximum slurping. We each consumed four of the sweet smalls with just a touch of lemon, then added cocktail sauce mixed with the oysters in tall shot glasses with our final two bites. They were all sublime.
The next dedicated Dockside Market is set for Sat., Oct 31, but SeaFeast Executive Director Liz Purdy says to keep your ears open for a possible addition before then.
“We know there is at least one boat out currently that we anticipate will be back in the harbor within the next week, and we’ll be getting the word out as soon as we know they’re headed in with product,” she told me. “One important aspect of this new program is capturing the dynamic nature of our fisheries and fishermen. Weather often changes schedules, mechanical issues can arise, or sometimes fishermen don’t return with as much product as they anticipate. We’ll do our best to have regular and consistent sale days, but as the seasons change and different fisheries are active, sale days may pop-up with short notice. We recommend everyone follow our Facebook page or sign up for our email list, where we plan to get notice out 24 hours in advance of our sale days with confirmation of what fishermen and products that will be in available in the harbor.
“Thank you so much for coming down the harbor on Saturday,” she added. “We’re thrilled you enjoyed buying directly from fishermen. The community support was wonderful!”
APPLE PICKING: Choose from 22 varieties of apples and pick up some pumpkins at U-pick happenings from 10am-5pm Wednesdays through Sundays through Oct. 31 at Bellewood Farms & Distillery, 6140 Guide Meridian. COVID-19 recommendations will be followed.
For more info: http://www.bellewoodfarms.com
[Thurs., Oct. 22]
FOOD RESILIENCY: “Community Conversation: Local Food Resiliency” will be the focus of a virtual presentation starting at noon with Cole Bitzenburg, the Food Manager of the Skagit Food Distribution Center, and Skagit Food Co-op General Manager Tony White. Entry is free; please register for the Zoom meeting.
For more info: http://www.skagitfoodcoop.com
FALL FRUIT EXTRAVAGANZA: Stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables and nursery products at a Fall Fruit Extravaganza taking place through October at Everson’s Cloud Mountain Farm Center, 6906 Goodwin Rd. Every Friday through Tuesday, place orders online or over the phone for five-pound bags of apples, pears, gallons of fresh apple cider, grapes and a variety of squash. Additionally, “Farmers’ Choice” Tasting Boxes can be had for $20. Pickup takes place Thursday through Saturday.
For more info: http://www.cloudmountainfarmcenter.org
[Fri., Oct. 23]
STUFF THE BUS: Help drive out hunger at a “Stuff the Bus” Food Drive taking place from 11:30am-5:30pm in front of the Burlington Fred Meyer, 920 S. Burlington Blvd. By helping fill a Skagit Transit bus with food—beans, canned fruits and veggies, tuna fish and rice will be accepted—you’ll be helping drive out hunger by providing essential food items.
For more info: http://www.skagittransit.org
[Sat., Oct. 24]
ANACORTES MARKET: The Anacortes Farmers Market is open from 9am-2pm Saturdays through Oct. 31 at the Depot Arts Center, 611 R Ave. Their rules include following and obeying all signs, markers, barriers and instructions from market staff or volunteers.
For more info: http://www.anacortesfarmersmarket.org
TWIN SISTERS MARKET: The Twin Sisters Market continues its fifth season from 9am-3pm at Nugent’s Corner, and 10am-2pm in Maple Falls at the North Fork Library. In addition to having protocols in place to keep the community healthy, Foothills folks who are accustomed to picking up a diverse array of high-quality produce grown nearby should know they can still expect to find great prices—by taking turns having the farmers staff the market, they’re able to keep prices low for East Whatcom County residents. The markets continue Saturdays through Oct. 31.
For more info http://www.twinsistersmarket.com
BELLINGHAM MARKET: Attend the Bellingham Farmers Market from 10am-2pm Saturdays through December at the Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. At the modified market, social distancing is strongly enforced, patrons are not allowed to touch the food, and a limited number of vendors are allowed on site. Entertainment, music and eating areas have been suspended until further notice, and masks are mandatory. Please stay home if you are sick, and be prepared with small bills to offer exact change to vendors when possible. Today’s events will also include a Pumpkin Hunt. Find a free gourd at the market, take it home carve or decorate it, then post pics online.
For more info: http://www.bellinghamfarmers.org
BLAINE MARKET: The annual Blaine Gardeners Market continues from 10am-2pm Saturdays through Oct. 31 at the city’s G Street Plaza. Due to social distancing requirements, vendor booths will be spread out.
For more info: http://www.blainechamber.com
[Sun., Oct. 25]
BIRCHWOOD FARMERS MARKET: Find locally grown vegetables, flowers, fruits and other goods from more than 10 growers and producers in Whatcom County at the Birchwood Farmers Market happening from 9am-2pm every Sunday through October at the Park Manor Shopping Center, 1538 Birchwood Ave. The cooperative single-stand market is dedicated to increasing food access in the Birchwood neighborhood by providing fresh, sustainably grown produce at a reduced prices. When attending the market, please wear a face mask and keep social distancing in mind.
For more info: http://www.birchwoodfarmersmarket.com
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